Athletes Urge Paralympic Bosses at IPC to Uphold Outright Paris 2024 Ban on Russia and Belarus
Global Athlete today sets out the case for the International Paralympic Committee – IPC – to uphold its ban on Russia and Belarus at the Paris 2024 Games next summer.
In its appeal to the IPC, Global Athlete, which recently condemned the silencing of athletes by the Olympic Council of Asia, concludes: “In concert with athletes from around the world, we urge the IPC to reject pressure from Russia, Belarus, and the International Olympic Committee to create a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. We call on the IPC to uphold the outright ban on Russia and Belarus for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.”
The Global Athlete Appeal To IPC in Full:
|On the eve of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) General Assembly and Conference, we echo and amplify the voices of thousands of athletes and twenty-six governments by calling for both Russia and Belarus to be banned from the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games. |
For nearly twenty months, Russia has waged a war of aggression in Ukraine, aided and abetted by Belarus. The violence has neither ceased nor diminished. Given the continued violation of sovereignty and ever-increasing toll of the conflict, the IPC has an ongoing responsibility as a world leader of sport to uphold its principled suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
Just days after the invasion of Ukraine, athletes rose up on social media and in the athletes’ village in Beijing before the commencement of the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. From all over the world, they stood in solidarity with Ukraine and demanded that the IPC reverse its decision to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. Left with no choice, the IPC ceded to the athletes’ demands.
Since then, the IPC has maintained an outright ban on Russia and Belarus in the six sports directly governed by the Committee but has left the remaining Paralympic sport federations free to make their own decisions regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes.
With a lack of central leadership, Paralympic sports, like Olympic sports, have divided over whether to maintain an outright ban. While the international sport community has waffled and lifted bans piecemeal, the daily atrocities in Ukraine have persisted. Russia’s aggression has resulted in the death of more than 235 athletes, the destruction of at least 345 sport facilities, the displacement of 40,000 athletes, and the loss of training and competition facilities for more than 140,000 aspiring youth. These losses and the ongoing attacks cannot become background noise to a global sporting event that welcomes Russian and Belarusian athletes.
With the IPC set to deliberate over the fate of the ban during this week’s General Assembly, we reiterate that neutrality is not an option. There is no such thing as a “neutral team” or “neutral athlete” at the Paralympic Games. Nationality is a central element of the Games – athletes are standard-bearers whose success is strongly associated with their homeland, regardless of whether flags, anthems, or national colours are stripped away. Removing identification does not change the fact that a team or an athlete represents their country – and in the case of Russia, represents, and potentially supports or serves for, the Putin regime.
In concert with athletes from around the world, we urge the IPC to reject pressure from Russia, Belarus, and the International Olympic Committee to create a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete. We call on the IPC to uphold the outright ban on Russia and Belarus for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.